Chapter 9 : Sixteen Saltines
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Who’s jealous, who’s jealous, who’s jealous, who’s jealous of who?
If I get busy then I couldn’t care less what you do
But when I’m by myself I think of nothing else
Than if a boy just might be getting through and touching you
~ Sixteen Saltines ~ Jack White ~
Something made me keep my mouth shut about the werewolf incident- I didn’t even tell Perry and Alice about it, because it didn’t feel right. Remus went home for a few days due to illness, and I recalled how funny he’d been acting at Hogsmeade- I guessed he must’ve been coming down with something at the time, though it can’t have been infectious because I hadn’t caught it. When Remus returned to school, I noticed he had a new cut on his cheek.
“What happened?” I asked with concern as we walked into Double Arithmency on the Thursday.
“Nothing. Just had a fall.” He shrugged, avoiding my eyes.
“Are you sure? It looks like an animal did it.” I noted.
“No… speaking of animals,” He said suddenly, lowering his voice so Winnie, who was nearby, couldn’t hear us, “Sirius told me what happened and I’m sorry.”
“What for?” I asked, “I didn’t get hurt.”
“I meant for not being there to you know, help.” He said, his cheeks going adorably pink.
“Oh, no that’s okay. It was a completely random thing.” I shrugged. “And like I said, I’m fine. No broken bones.” I smiled.
“Sirius was there.” Remus said, sounding strangely… bitter? That couldn’t be right.
“He was setting out some prank. It was a coincidence. McGonagall said something about the werewolf being taken back to the Shrieking Shack. Maybe after all this time it was the werewolf who was making all the noise, not angry ghosts?” I suggested the theory I’d been working on for a few days now.
“Sounds like it.” Remus didn’t seem very interested in any of this at all, and was gazing with rapt attention at the teacher. I sighed, slightly annoyed. Sirius was acting the same way about the whole thing now- even to the point of evading the subject. Maybe he was embarrassed about our talk, but that didn’t explain Remus- although I supposed if he wished he had been there to help me, he was irritated about that.
Remus was very quiet throughout the whole class, though he kept glancing my way and smiling. Each smile made my stomach gurgle excitedly, and I was surprised but happy when he took my hand after class. He was dragging me in the opposite direction of the courtyard, where we usually headed, and I asked curiously where we were going.
“I just wanted to do something…” He mumbled, leading me back to the same third floor corridor where I’d met the werewolf. I stared at him. “Our date didn’t really go as I planned and then that night… well, you know what happened. And I thought I’d make the memory of this corridor a happy one for you.”
“How?” I asked breathlessly.
“Like this.” And then he kissed me. Just like that, I was getting my first kiss, much later in life than the average girl at Hogwarts. It was nice to have Remus’ hands on my waist, pulling me in towards him, and the pressure on my lips too. It wasn’t how I remembered Perry describing her first kiss, with David. That’d been in fourth year, and she said she’d felt a rush of warmth when he held her. I didn’t feel that, but I did feel really happy.
When he broke away, we stared at each other for a minute, and suddenly I felt mortified. I had no idea why, but I felt really embarrassed by the kiss, like we shouldn’t have done it or something. It was only a kiss, I reminded myself! I looked down at my feet shyly.
“Thanks.” I said awkwardly. “That was better than the werewolf.” Thankfully though, it was time for me to rush to Ancient Runes.
Sirius knew something was wrong as soon as I entered the room. He raised an eyebrow at me accusingly. “What’s up with you?” He asked.
“Nothing.” I lied quickly.
“You look awfully dishevelled- almost as if you and Moony got caught in the act.” I reddened. “Ooh, was it McGonagall? Was she shocked and horrified?”
“We didn’t get caught.” I said, still feeling embarrassed, “Plus we weren’t doing anything… you know.”
“I see.” He was giving me a weird look that made me feel like I was under the gaze of Mad-Eye Moody’s famous magical eye. I avoided looking at him, opening my textbook to the instructed page and pretending to read. “You never seemed like the shy type to me.”
“Sirius, you’ve known me for all of a month.” I reminded him.
“That’s true, but still… you didn’t hold back on me even on the train to school. So, what’s the deal with you and Remus?” He was still giving me that discomforting x-ray look. I looked at him reluctantly.
“What do you mean?”
“Are you, you know, together?”
“Haven’t you asked him?” I raised my eyebrows at him.
“Remus is a very quiet, reserved kind of guy, Erin.”
“And I, excuse me, am a very quiet, reserved kind of girl. Now butt out.” I added. I wished that he would forget all about it for some reason- I still felt weird about my first kiss with Remus. I didn’t need Sirius interrogating me on top of that. Thankfully, he seemed to get the hint.
A/N: I know this is a really short chapter! The next one is longer, I promise. This was greatly inspired by the song I quoted though, Sixteen Saltines by the amazing Jack White.
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